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California leaders set state health goals to be met by 2022

December 19, 2012 |  2:33 pm

With the state facing rising medical costs and increasing rates of chronic disease, California health leaders issued a report Wednesday setting specific health targets to meet by 2022.

The state’s goals include reducing smoking rates, increasing vaccinations among children and improving depression screening and treatment. The report also describes ways to improve end-of-life care, by expanding palliative care at hospitals and hospice programs at home.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order in May establishing the “Let’s Get Healthy Task Force” to examine how California could become the healthiest state in the nation. A group of about 40 health leaders met over the next six months to discuss ways to make that happen. Task force participants included leaders from universities, hospitals, county health departments, unions, insurance companies and schools.

“We are all very eager to make the report real throughout California,” said state Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley during a call with reporters.

Dooley, one of the co-chairs of the task force, said legislation may arise from the group’s suggestions but that the goal was to figure out how to improve the state’s health with the resources and tools that already exist. The state plans to track its progress on meeting the specific targets, which Dooley acknowledged are ambitious.

Dooley’s co-chair, Don Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the report has some very specific steps for local leaders to take. “I really encourage cities and towns to take this report seriously,” he said. “This report is a template for action.”

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-- Anna Gorman

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